FreightWaves: Qantas Expands Fleet to Keep Up With E-Commerce Demand

Aug 18, 2022

(Image Source: FreightWaves)

Qantas, the national airline of Australia, plans to purchase six Airbus A321 standard aircraft and convert them to freighters to keep up with the massive increase in cargo volumes driven by e-commerce. "This investment will enhance our operations to satisfy the rising demand for next-day delivery," remarked Alan Joyce, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at Qantas Group.

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Furthermore, Qantas Freight has been one of the Group's shining stars throughout the epidemic due to the widespread adoption of online shopping among Australians. While part of this change is transitory, demand is still significantly higher than it was before the outbreak. After locating the old planes on the secondary market, Qantas intends to acquire the six passenger-to-freighter conversions between early 2024 and mid-2026. Qantas and its customers will benefit from the enhanced capacity and lower operating costs brought about by the arrival of the A321 cargo planes.

The Airbus planes will replace the five Boeing 737s; three of the smaller 737-300 variants and one of the larger 737-400 ones that is already in service, and one 737-300 that was retired in July after 36 years of service. Each freighter has a greater payload capacity – 25.3 tons compared to the previous limit of 20.3 tons for the 737s – and uses around 30% less fuel for every ton of cargo moved. In addition to the five new freighters, Qantas is putting in service a sixth narrow-body freighter as well.

“Cargo airlines, especially widebody freighter operators, continue to achieve unprecedented high returns as a legacy of the pandemic induced capacity shortages. We expect this level of cargo demand to be sustained…And we are also seeing strong demand on the narrowbody freighter side,” mentioned Aengus Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of aircraft leasing giant AerCap.

Source: Qantas converting more aircraft for freight to meet e-commerce demand

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